The month of October 2013 saw India and China taking some necessary steps forward in order to was exacerbated by the intrusions of Chinese troops in Ladakh earlier this year. Of the nine pacts signed between India and China during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit, one of the most important is on maintaining peace and tranquillity along the border between the countries. Given the continuing differences on the line of actual control (LAC), this border defence agreement signed on October 23, 2013, assumes sig concerns peace and tranquillity along the LAC between India and China. The four earlier agreements include the accords almost on similar lines signed in 1993, 1996, 2005 and 2012, all relating working mechanism between the representatives of both nations.
Additionally, both sides pledged to realise the “full promise” of their partnership and share “the friendliest of relations”. With more than a third of the world’s population living in India and China, the two countries can be “one huge trading bloc”, say the strategic analysts on both sides. China is already one of India’s top trading partners: the two sides have agreed for a new $100 billion bilateral trade target for 2015, up from over $66 billion in 2012. The two countries together account for 36.7 per cent of the world’s population, 10.8 per cent of its gross domestic product, and 10.4 per cent of the global trade. Hence in one sense, India-China relations have transcended bilateral dimensions to - the premiers of two of the world’s largest nations.
The Border Defence Agreement of October 23, 2013, provides a template as it explains in conclusion that this agreement “may be revised, amended or terminated with the consent of the two sides” and any such revision or amendment, “mutually agreed by the two sides, shall form an integral part of this agreement”. Clearly, this provides elasticity to the agreement, in terms of addressing any future issues.
The highlights of the agreement are:
The two sides shall implement border defence cooperation by exchanging information, including information about military exercises, aircraft, demolition operations and unmarked mines and take measures conducive to the maintenance of peace, stability and tranquility along the LAC in the India-China border areas. The two sides will jointly combat smuggling of arms, wildlife articles and other contrabands.
Under the agreement, Indian and Chinese sides will assist the other side in locating personnel, livestock and means of transport and aerial vehicles that may have crossed or are possibly in the process of crossing the LAC.
Work with the other side in combating natural disasters or infectious diseases that may affect or spread to the other side. The cooperation shall be implemented through The Article VIII of the agreement says that both sides shall exercise maximum self-restraint, refrain from any provocative actions, not use force against each other if the border defence forces of the two sides come to a face-to-face situation in areas where there is no common understanding of the LAC.
The two sides, under the Article VII, also agreed that either side will have the right to seek a clari situation arises with reference to any activity in border areas.
The two sides agreed that they shall not follow or tail patrols of the other side in the India-China border areas.
The agreement also provides for about regular meetings of the representatives of the Ministry of Defence of the Government of India and the Ministry of National Defence of the People’s Republic of China.
Let us hope that this progressively leads to the solution of the boundary issue in the long run.